Information about Load Securement

The securing of a load must be of primary concern for all road users, whether using a seatbelt to secure our loved ones in the family car, or transporting groceries in lorries to the local supermarket.

Not only does effective load securing prevent goods from falling onto roads causing danger to other road users, it also saves money by ensuring that goods arrive at their destination undamaged.

Loading of Vehicles

Loading, securing and unloading goods safely are essential activities for any fleet operator. However, there’s no detailed regulatory framework specifically for these activities. Nevertheless, there’s enough legislation for the authorities to bring you to book.

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency has introduced training for enforcement staff to enable them to identify loads that are not sufficiently restrained.

Safety & Health Practitioner Magazine published a relevant article which clearly outlines the primary responsibilities - click here.

Safety of loads on vehicles

Safety should be your main consideration when loading. You must ensure your drivers and/or warehouse staff are aware that:

  • The load must be secured or be in a position that ensures no danger is likely to be caused to anyone. This includes if the load or part of the load falls from the vehicle, or moves on the vehicle. The use of LoadSecure Anti-slip mats can help to reduce any likelyhood of movement and can also reduce the number of physical restraints, straps or other fastenings required.
  • No vehicle or trailer may be used for a purpose for which it is unsuitable so as to cause danger to anyone in or on the vehicle or on the road.

Load securing requirements at DVSA roadside checks

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has introduced training for enforcement examiners with a focused approach on load securing enabling them to identify high-risk loads as part of a roll out since April 2012. The aim is to promote clarity and consistency for operators in enforcement of load securing. This initiative has been in development for some time following a campaign in early 2010 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and DVSA when enforcement examiners inspected the loads of vehicles to ensure that they were being transported securely. Similar spot checks took place in early 2009. Both campaigns highlighted concerns identifying that significant numbers of vehicles were found to have loads which were not sufficiently restrained.

An industry-led working group which included representation from FTA was involved in discussions with DVSA and the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) to review current load securing practice; it made recommendations for DVSA enforcement staff to be adequately trained in assessing load securing and drafted guidance for operators, consignors and drivers is representative of, and coincides with, the training and guidelines given to DVSA examiners. The guidance has been funded and published by HSL, supported and endorsed by the industry working group representatives.

HSE research has shown that unsafe loads on vehicles cost UK businesses millions of pounds in damaged goods each year. Vehicles carrying unrestrained loads are also a safety risk to their drivers and other staff involved in loading and unloading them. On the road they also pose a danger to other road users and the public at large. An unrestrained load can significantly increase the risk of a vehicle rolling over or spilling its load onto the highway.

To protect drivers and other road users, the (Road Vehicles) Construction & Use Regulations 1986 indicate that loads must be secured, if necessary by physical restraint other than their own weight, so they do not present a danger or nuisance. DVSA can enforce a range of regulatory powers, including prohibiting the continued use of the vehicle, if they feel there is serious risk to other road users, workers or to the driver and has stated that operators who are currently complying with the Construction & Use Regulations should see no difference in their enforcement policy following the changes outlined above. Minor problems in the way vehicles have been loaded and secured will be dealt with through advice rather than enforcement action wherever possible.

Additional Reading: Safety of loads on vehicles: code of practice (third edition), published by UK Department of Transport.

Hauliers carrying loads into Europe should also be aware of the load securing requirements in EU and other regions of Europe.  European best practices guidelines on cargo securing for road transport, published by the EU Commission.

(text extracts from FTA website)